We're a little over a month into quarantine now, and while I feel like I am doing a pretty good job of staying positive, as well as healthy and mentally sane, there are a lot of things I miss. I miss eating out. I miss dinner parties with friends. I really miss the events that have had to be postponed that we at CatalystCreativ were going to produce. And I really miss hosting!
My husband, Anthony, and I are quarantined with our friend Gigi Howard and her six year old son—our God son—Southworth, in Southampton, New York out on the south fork of Long Island. It’s our little modern family and there is never a dull moment! I have been doing a lot of the cooking, we have all been working a lot, and everyone gets outside anytime we can! Our 6pm beach walks (that “coffee cup” I’m holding may have a G&T in it!) are the highlight of our days. Clearly, we’ve gotten into a nice little routine.
So this weekend, I decided to switch things up and throw ourselves a dinner party. The plan was to get some fresh flowers, light some candles, cook some amazing food, and open the good wine. If you read my last post on entertaining you know I am a huge fan of doing this! If not now, when?
I want to share what we did on Saturday night in hopes that you might try this in your home. I have to say, everyone loved it. After weeks of wearing exclusively athleisure and PJs it felt good to put on a shirt with a collar and get a little fancy.
First, make a plan: It doesn't have to be difficult or fussy, but make something you like. Try recreating a recipe from your favorite restaurant that you are really missing. With a lot of extra time, look for something from your cookbook that you’ve been meaning to try, but that has felt too difficult or too time consuming in the past and make.
Set the table: Make it nice! I love to use a mixture of items that I have collected over the years. Some votive candles, some taper candles, linen napkins, stemmed glassware, a beautiful table linen you have not used in years. This is the time to pull out the good stuff and make it special. This weekend I used the china that was given to me by my Aunt Robin, some linens I picked up on a trip to Portugal, water glasses from a local artist in Sag Harbor, and our everyday flatware—we only have one set out here!
Prepare an awesome meal: Our first course was a mushroom and leek toast, second was pan-seared fresh scallops, the main was an eggplant stack with pesto quinoa and a macadamia nut “ricotta” and we finished with strawberry shortcake from our local bakery. I have included links to some of my favorite go-to recipes below. Spoiler alert, I love Ina Garten. I have been eating mostly plant based lately, so I included one of those recipes as well. We had four courses.
Pasta With Pesto (vegan)
Tip: If you have younger kids, get them involved! Make a cheese plate or appetizer to have and enjoy that while they are eating dinner. We did this with my Godson Southworth, then put him to bed, and enjoyed a nice, quiet adult dinner.
Music: I love the Spotify playlist called “An Elegant Affair.” It's great background music for cooking or during dinner. Play any music you like, but music is good for the soul and helps set the mood.
Wine!: If you’re like me, a glass of wine or a cocktail can really help with all of the uncertainty and the abundance of time at home. If alcohol is not your thing, make a refreshing mocktail. My go-to is some fresh berries, a sprig of mint, plus sparkling water, all in a stemmed wine glass with a slice of citrus! I make kid-friendly “special drinks” for Southworth too in an acrylic glass and he loves them! Saturday night it was Sprite with some floating blackberries. Below are a few recommendations for wine, all available from wine.com so you never even have to leave your house to get them. Keep in mind that shipped wine should “rest” for about two weeks before consuming after shipping. So for sure plan ahead!
- Ruinart Blanc de Blancs - One of my favorite go-to champagnes. It never disappoints! They also have half bottles if there are just two of you and you only want a glass to start.
- White Burgundy - I LOVE white burgundy, really any time of year. Price points can vary greatly, but make sure it's from France and from the Bourgogne region. Chablis is white burgundy’s sister, located just a bit farther south from Burgundy. Most labels that read “Montrachet” will be more expensive, but for good reason. The wine.com ratings are helpful, but try a few to decide which is your favorite.
- Ken Wright Cellars Pinot Noir - We go through a lot of this pinot noir. It’s light, dry and a good value for an everyday bottle and pairs well with food or can be enjoyed on its own.
- If you want a slightly more full-body wine, I really love Zinfandel and I think zins are completely underrated. Not to be confused with white zinfandel that is usually sold in a box and stored in the refrigerator! The Biale Vineyards Black Chicken has been a long time favorite, same for Turley.
- Lastly, if you are looking for a full body wine to enjoy with a nice salty piece of meat, like the filet of beef recipe above, look for a Cabernet Sauvignon from California, a Bordeaux from France or a Brunello from Italy. There are so many great bottles in this category!
And lastly, as you are planning your dinner party at home, have a look at some of the Instagram accounts I turn to when I need creative inspiration!
@fernstudioflowers - I met the founder of Fern Studio my freshman year of college at Furman University and have been inspired by her talent ever since! Check out her beautiful Instagram page for inspiration for your events and flowers in your own home
@elissagoodman - This is one of my favorite accounts currently. Elissa offers amazing tips for keeping your immune system healthy, great recipes, and if you are in the Los Angeles area you can even order her cleanses delivered to your door!
@completelykatelin - Katelin regularly posts amazing recipes and tips for maintaining a healthy lifestyle
@southernbakedpie - quite the opposite of the two accounts above, this amazing company was started in my hometown of Gainesville, GA. They ship(!) just about anywhere and the pies are great with a simple salad for dinner at home
@latavolalinen - We used La Tavola Fine Linens for our wedding, and their IG page inspires me daily! Check them out for lots of inspiration! The great thing is if you see something you like, you can rent the linen and they will ship it to you!
@cb2 - I get so many entertaining pieces, glasses, napkins, candles, and other items from CB2, and their IG does a great job of showcasing what is new. The price points are affordable for most any budget and the quality is generally fantastic!